The World of Arabic Nicknames Bushra Zawaydeh, Ph.D. Senior Linguist Basis Technology Corp. What is a nickname? • A nickname is a name that identifies a person, place, or event that is different from the formal given name of the referent. • Nicknames are often not legally registered in one’s official documents. Examples: Muammar Qathafi • Al‐Akh al‐Aqid ‘Brother Colonel’ • Amin al‐qawmiyyah al‐Arabiyyah ‘Keeper of Arab Nationalism’ • Sahib al‐Kitab al‐Akhdar ‘Owner of the Green Book’ 2 Why study nicknames? • Studying nicknames is important for national security because they are used as aliases. Instead of using one’s real name, one may use a nickname to hide their identity. • A term for such usage is “nom de guerre” (i.e. war name). Resistance fighters, terrorists, and guerilla fighters use pseudonyms to hide their identities and protect themselves and their families from harm. 3 Importance of studying nicknames • Understanding the pseudonyms used by radical groups sheds light on their future intentions, perceptions, motivations, and connection to the cause. (Guidère, 2006). Abu Hamza al-Muhajir (Abu Ayyub Al-Misri) chief of Al-Qaeda in Iraq. Hamza Ibn Abd Al‐Muttalib Prophet Mohammad’s uncle. One of the bravest protectors of Islam. Muhajir he immigrated to Iraq to fight. Or it could refer to “hijra” of companions of Mohammad from Mecca to Medina. 4 Polymorphism • The same individual may have many nicknames/aliases. • used at different occasions by different people. The Prince The Emir Sword of Islam Hajj Sword of God The Sheikh Osama bin Laden Samaritan n a ma Bin Lade Abu Abdallah Os Imam Mehdi Mujahid Shaykh The Director Lion Sheikh 5 When & Why are nicknames used? • Friendly daily conversations (face to face, on the phone, letters, e- mails, etc). Used for endearment or respect. • Monarchs may be known by other nicknames. • ‘Nabaz’ nicknames used to insult others (ex. Enemies), or used in the formation of swear words. • Concealing identity: Computer users: Chartrooms, e‐mails, blogs, used as“usernames”. Literary pen names – publishing authors. Stage names (ism shuhra)‐ actors, singers, dancers, etc. Criminals, terrorists, etc (takhallus) – especially the leaders have pseudonyms. 6 Types of Arabic nicknames 1. Asma’ Dal’ Hypocoristics ٔاسماء دلع 2. Kunya Abu X كنية 3. Nasab Ibn X patronymics نسب 4. Laqab description لقب 5. Nisba origin of person نسبة 6. Nabaz insulting names نبز 7 Hypocoristics • Arabic hypocoristic formation is very generative. • Generation is largely based on the root of the name (Zawaydeh and Davis, 1999). • “Khalid” ﺧﺎﻟﺪhas the following Jordanian and Egyptian nicknames: Khalluude Lido Khalkhuuleh Dodi Khalluudi Khaalid Lodi Khalluude Khokha Khukhu Dido Khalkhul 8 Hypocoristics: Template CVC.CVVC(V) • In these names, the consonants in the full names are the same as the ones in the root. • Final [a] surfaces when the last root consonant is a guttural or [r]. Root Meaning of Name Template CaCCuuC(e/a) root bšr give good bušra ﺑﺸﺮى baššuur(a) news xld Eternal xaalid ﺧﺎﻟﺪ xalluud(e) wld Give birth waliid وﻟﻴﺪ walluud(e) 9 Hypocoristics • Different names with the same root consonants have the same hypocoristic. Root Meaning of Name Template root CaCCuuC(e/a) Hsn good Hasan ﺣﺴﻦ Hassuun(e) Hsn good Huseen ﺣﺴﻴﻦ Hassuun(e) 10 Hypocoristics • Names with four root consonants follow the same pattern. Root Meaning of Name Template root CaCCuuC(e/i/a) mrym Mary Maryam ﻣﺮﻳﻢ maryuum(e) brhm To look ?ibraahiim barhuum(e) steadfastly إﺑﺮاهﻴﻢ 11 Hypocoristics • When a full name has an affixal consonant, be it a prefix, suffix, or infix, the affixal consonant does not appear in the hypocoristic. Hypocoristic contains only root consonants, regardless of what other consonants may be in the name. Root Meaning of Name Template root CaCCuuC(e/i/a) Hmd praise muHammad Hammuud(e) ﻣﺤﻤﺪ Hmd praise ?aHmad أﺣﻤﺪ Hammuud(e) Hmd praise Haamid ﺣﺎﻣﺪ Hammuud(e) 12 Kunya آﻨﻴﺔ • In the Arab tradition, after a person gets married and has a child, s/he is called by the name of his eldest son (or daughter). Abu Muhammad ‘father of Muhammad’ Um Muhammad ‘mother of Muhammad’ • Highly used in the Arab World, and Muslims in general (ex: Afghanistan, Pakistan). • Some Kunyas are metaphorical. The second word uses a positive or negative attribute. Abu Al‐Khayr ‘father of goodness’ Abu Dhubab ‘father of flies’ • Not every Abu X is just a nickname. It could be also a surname. Ex. Palestinian surnames: Abu Hadeeda ‘father of iron’ Abu Minshaar ‘father of a saw’ Abu Sham’a ‘father of a candle’ 13 Usages of Kunya • Used daily as an honorific to show respect to elders. • Used by young men to address each other, for fun. Even one who is not married, or doesn’t have a son may be called Abu X. • As a “nom de guerre”. For example, “Abu” nicknames were popular among PLO leaders. Yasir Arafat Abu Ammar Mahmoud Abbas Abu Mazen • A terrorist may be known by a Kunya name. in India, the nickname “Abu Al‐Qama” was used by a member of the terrorist group Lashkar‐e‐Taiba ﻟﺸﮑﺮﻃﻴﺒہin the Mumbai terror attacks (11/26/2008) 14 Nasab • Nasab is a patronymic or a metronymic name. The word “Ibn” or “bint” (i.e. son/ daughter of) followed by the father’s name. • Was used more frequently as an alias in historic times. The person was known as “son of X” instead of his first name. A chain of names reflects one’s genealogical ancestors. Example: Ibn Khaldoun Abd ar‐Rahman ibn Muhammad ibn Muhammad ibn Muhammad ibn al‐Hasan ibn Muhammad ibn Jabir ibn Muhammad ibn Ibrahim ibn Abd ar‐Rahman ibn Khaldun 15 Nasab .. current usage • It is a standard way of reporting names in Saudi Arabia, and the Arabian Gulf. The head of the House of Saud: Muhammad bin Saud bin Muhammad bin Muqrin bin Murkhan bin Ibrahim bin Musa bin Rabi’a bin Mani’ bin Rabi’a al‐Muraydi Al‐Dur’a al‐banafi Al‐Adnani • Used online as alias names. Next word could be a colloquial or MSA adjective, a noun, a person’s name, or a place name. Ibn Falastine ‘son of Palestine’ Ibn Hajar ‘son of a stone’ 16 Laqab • This is a description of the person, that could be considered a title of nobility. • It is often a two-word phrase, which often indicates the person’s occupation, importance, or appearance. Originally, it was used as a nickname, and later adopted to be a title given to important people. Sayf al‐Din ‘The sword of the religion’ Nasir al‐Dawla ‘the helper of the dynasty’ Al‐Jahiz ‘the goggle‐eyed’ 17 Laqab Styles • A physical or personal quality. The phrase could be metaphorical. These could also be used as surnames. Al‐Tawil ‘the tall one’ (could be a surname) Al‐Andalib al‐Asmar ‘the dark nightingale’ (Singer Abd Al‐Halim Hafiz) • Expressing adoration or reliance on God, or lineage to the Prophet. Some use compound structures with words such as “Allah”, “Abd”, “al-Din”, “al-Islam”, “al-Dawlah”, or words used in titles: Al‐Ra’is Al‐Mu’min ‘the faithful president’ Anwar Al‐Sadat Amir Al‐Mu’minin ‘prince of the believers’ Husni Mubarak Sayf al‐Islam ‘sword of Islam’ Osama Bin Laden 18 Nisba • An adjective derived from the place of origin, birth, residence, or occupation. It could be also a clan, tribe, or family. • Formed by adding –iyy/-iy at the end of the word. Usually preceded by al- definite article. • This form is also used for surnames. Abu Ayyub al‐Misri (from Egypt) Salah al‐Din Al‐Ayyoubi (founder of Ayyoubi dynasty – conquered crusaders) Al‐Ansari fighters born in Iraq (Ansar al‐Sunna group) • This type of structure is used frequently to coin new surname aliases. 19 Nabaz • Nabaz could be metaphors that are used to describe somebody that is disliked or considered to be an enemy. • Jihadi style writings use such metaphors abundantly. Communism/ Soviet Union/ Russian army Red Cancer/ Crayfish اﻟﺴﺮﻃﺎن اﻷﺣﻤﺮ Red Octopus اﻷﺧﻄﺒﻮط اﻷﺣﻤﺮ Red Devil اﻟﺸﻴﻄﺎن اﻷﺣﻤﺮ Red Plague اﻟﻄﺎﻋﻮن اﻷﺣﻤﺮ Red crawling اﻟﺰﺣﻒ اﻷﺣﻤﺮ 20 Conclusion In this talk we surveyed different methods of coining nicknames/ aliases in Arabic, how and when they are used. A point to remember is that nicknames are symbolic, and provide an insight about the person’s mentality, mood, origin, and way of thinking. 21 ًشكرا Shukran Thank You!
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